Thick raindrops are slapping on the cobblestones, the wind is howling. The Meteorological Institute had warned of a cold snap in the morning. Despite the adverse weather conditions, tens of thousands of Jair Bolsonaro supporters gathered in the center of Rio de Janeiro this Wednesday.
"Brazil's flag must never be red," says demonstrator Andrea Bastos, citing one of the Bolsonaro camp's most popular campaign slogans. Then she sends afterwards: "This election was manipulated."
They flocked to nearly every major Brazilian city that week, singing the national anthem, praying, intoxicating each other and reassuring one another that what must not happen cannot happen: the defeat of their political idol by left-wing candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (77).
There is no evidence, either from international election observers or from the hard facts, that the allegations of election fraud have been repeated thousands of times online. Only when Bolsonaro called on his supporters in a second, now much clearer speech to end the illegal road blockades across the country on Wednesday evening did the situation ease up. The handover of official business has begun. Bolsonaro has chosen not to follow the same path as Donald Trump, who rushed his supporters to the Capitol in Washington.
But the tense situation shows what mobilization potential the Bolsonarista camp still has and what resistance Lula da Silva has to overcome. When Bolsonaro won the elections in 2018, the motto of his opponents was "Ele Não" (Not him). Now the scenario repeats itself, this time from the other side.
"He has declared at various levels that the election is lost," says Brazil correspondent Tobias Buyer on Bolsonaro's defeat. Now we have to wait and see if the followers are satisfied with the result. Apparently they had called for protests again.
Lula has at least 58 million Bolsonaro voters against him. Their motto is now: "Never communism in Brazil!" The election loser still has immense influence. The number of his followers on Twitter even grew in the days after the narrow defeat and exceeded the ten million mark.
For the election winner, Lula, this means that he cannot afford to make many mistakes. "He will have to be very attentive and have a very transparent government," says political scientist Wellington Lourenço de Almeida, professor at the University of Brasília, in an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG. "One of his first tasks will be to ensure political stability."
It is usually said that a new government should commit political "atrocities" such as cuts in social spending or unpopular decisions right at the beginning of a term of office, because then understanding is still relatively high and the next election is very far away. But Lula doesn't have this option, especially since key cornerstones of the Brazilian economy, such as the agricultural industry or the oil company Petrobras, are making significant profits and the economy is booming.
In the election campaign, these successes were downplayed as Bolsonaro's tricks, now Lula will be able to use this stable starting position. Many economists see Brazil as a medium-term winner of the current crisis anyway: The country could benefit from production relocations from Asia, among other things. As an internationally recognized contact person, Lula comes at just the right time, in contrast to the self-isolating Bolsonaro.
The person Lula polarizes and fascinates at the same time. In many international media, the man who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2011 is almost considered a messiah. In his own country, however, half of his compatriots met with outright rejection, sometimes even hatred.
Lula will not be able to convince the extreme right wing of the Bolsonaro camp anyway, but the center made the difference in this election - and Lula a third chance. His greatest strength lies in his mixture of pragmatism and opportunism: Lula can get along with almost all camps, with the conservative forces as well as with the extreme left wing in his own party.
No sooner was the result of the election than the world leaders started a race to win the favor of what will soon be the most powerful man in Latin America, although he is considered more of a friend of Putin than of Ukraine and he uses state violence to suppress the opposition in the opposing political camp , but not in the left-wing dictatorships of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, is worthy of condemnation. Lula tends to be closer to China than the US.
The "Global North", which resented Bolsonaro for his growing Amazon deforestation and at times vulgar style, will need to brace themselves for a confident new partner who could turn the tables. Then Brazil will not be in the dock, but the so-called West with its responsibility for the destruction of the environment.
In Brazil, on the other hand, people expect Lula to deliver what he promised during the campaign. He announced investments in the favelas: "Before the police come, education, health, culture must come, improving people's living conditions," said Lula at one of his appearances in the slums. The jubilation about the victory was correspondingly great there - and now the expectations are.
For Lula, this is also an opportunity to make amends: In 2013, under Lula's party friend Dilma Rousseff, mass protests against the left-wing Workers' Party began in Brazil, because after Lula's decision to bring the World Cup and the Olympic Games to Brazil, billions in stadiums and pockets were more corrupt Builders poured into infrastructure instead.
Something else will be crucial for Lula's image abroad: he will have to reduce deforestation in the Amazon to zero, as promised during the election campaign. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch called on Lula to follow up on the promises with concrete action. At the World Climate Conference in Egypt, Lula will be able to enjoy Brazil's return to the global community.
He has confirmed his participation and should be one of the stars. But he will also have to answer questions there. Because he has to decide whether Brazil will continue to focus on profitable but ecologically destructive oil production. One day after the election, Petrobras reported one of the largest oil finds in the country's history - 250 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, according to the specialist portal "Offshore Engineer".